Settlement reached in Norwich Catholic Diocese priest molestation case

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Catholic Diocese of Norwich will pay $1.1 million dollars as part of a settlement released today in a priest molestation case.

The lawsuit stems from an unidentified Massachusetts woman’s claim that Father Thomas Shea molested her about 60 times between the ages of 3 and 16-years-old. The settlement comes one day before the jury trial was to start on Tuesday and following three day mediation sessions.

In the claim, Jane Doe #2 says Father Shea french kissed her, fondled her and touched her inappropriately. At least 15 young girls had been molested by Shea in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. Six other victims were prepared to testify that they had been molested by Shea and had complained to church officials but nothing was done about it.  The Diocese paid $1.1 million to another victim, known as Jane Doe #1, in 2013.  That settlement was also reached just as that trial was to begin in the same courtroom in Hartford Superior Court where Jane Doe #2 was to be tried this week.

Attorneys Kelly E. Reardon and Robert I. Reardon, Jr. of The Reardon Law Firm of New London successfully represented both Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2, as well as representing several other childhood molestation victims of priests in lawsuits settled with the Diocese of Norwich and Hartford.

According to trial counsel, Attorney Kelly Reardon, “My client has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression since childhood.  She has been living her nightmare for over forty years.  While recent psychological counseling has helped her to begin the road to recovery, she has a long way to go.  This compensation she is finally receiving after nearly three years of litigation givers her a sense of vindication and the ability to continue the healing process.  Our firm was so pleased to assist her in bringing some closure in her life.”

The Reardon Law Firm retained as experts James Chu, MD, a nationally recognized Harvard Medical School psychiatrist with expertise in childhood molestation and PTSD, Dr. David Johnson, a Yale psychologist, Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, Chair of the Neurology Department at the University of Toledo Medical Center who has published on the relationship between childhood molestations, PTSD and migraine headaches and Dr. Edward Boyko, a faculty member at the University of Washington Medical Center who has conducted a national study on the relationship between PTSD and exacerbation of diabetes.  “With this team of experts, the evidence became overwhelming that Jane Doe #2 has many mental and physical impairments as a result of what she went through during years of molestations by Shea” stated Attorney Reardon.  “This case demonstrates that childhood molestation can not only lead to PTSD but also to many serious physical manifestations of that mental illness.”

In a statement made from the Catholic Diocese of Norwich:

“We hope that the recent settlement reached in the case of the late Father Thomas Shea brings some healing and closure to those who may have been affected by his misconduct so many years ago.  Sexual abuse, such as that alleged in this case, was and is inexcusable in all times and circumstances, and is especially heinous when it occurs at the hands of a person in a position of trust.   Now, we must continue to focus all of our time and energy on ensuring that something like this never happens again, in the Church, in our schools, or in our families.”

“Since 2002, the Diocese of Norwich, in compliance with the zero tolerance policies of the Bishops of the United States, has worked tirelessly to establish, monitor and enforce practices to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults…”

The Diocese of Norwich and Bishop Daniel Reilly were represented in both the Jane Doe #1 and the Jane Doe #2 cases by Attorney Gary Kaisen of Milano and Wanat in Branford and Attorney Wesley Horton of the Hartford firm of  Horton, Knox and Shields.

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